Distracted Driving

WreckItAllLogo With ever increasing demands on our personal and professional time in today’s busy society, learning to juggle multiple tasks at once is something we all face daily. As a result, a new traffic safety epidemic has emerged on America’s roadways that demand immediate attention: distracted driving.

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. One of the most alarming and widespread forms of distracted driving is cell phone usage. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds, the equivalent of driving blind at 55-mph for the length of an entire football field. And a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.

Text messaging is of heightened concern because it combines three types of distraction – visual, manual and cognitive. In other words, texting involves taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off the task of driving.

To tackle this ever-increasing problem, NHTSA is focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness and education—the same tactics that have curbed drinking and driving and increased seat belt use.

NHTSA’s message is simple – “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All.” With supporters ranging from President Obama to Adam Levine and legislation being passed across the nation to discourage distracted driving, we hope drivers get the message loud and clear.

So the next time you are pressed for time, and it seems like multitasking in the car is the best decision, remember those 3,179 lives that were taken because someone decided they could do two things at once. A text or call is not worth your life, or anyone else’s.

 

 

 

POLICE/FIRE DISPATCHER

POLICE/FIRE DISPATCHER

The Bryan Police Department is accepting applications for part-time Police/Fire Dispatcher until April 8th at 4:00 PM. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, pass medical exam and thorough background investigation, including lie detector. Starting wage will be $10.00/hr. Application packets are available at the Bryan Police & Fire Complex, 304 West High Street, Bryan, OH 43506. (28)

 

Attorney General DeWine Warns of Top Tax Scams Reported to AG’s Office

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned Ohioans about two of the most common tax-related scams reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office – the “IRS” phone scam and tax identity theft.

The IRS phone scam generally begins with a call claiming the recipient is in trouble with the IRS and must call a certain phone number to avoid arrest or legal action. Eventually, the person is asked to send money or personal information to resolve the supposed problem.

Since Jan. 1, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 1,400 reports about IRS scams. Most people who report the scam haven’t lost money, but nationally, since October 2013, more than 5,000 victims collectively have paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam, according to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

“I think many people hear ‘IRS’ and are scared to death,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Scam artists rely on that. Sometimes they threaten you. They tell you how much you owe, tell you to buy a prepaid card, and ask you to give the card number over the phone. The real IRS won’t call to demand immediate payment over the phone without ever sending you written information.”

Tax identity theft, another commonly reported problem, generally occurs when an imposter files a fraudulent tax return using someone else’s Social Security number in order to obtain that person’s tax refund. In 2015, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section received more than 700 complaints about tax-related identity theft. (To resolve this type of identity theft, individuals generally must work with the IRS or state tax department.)

To avoid scams during tax season, consumers should take steps to protect themselves, including:

  • File your tax return promptly. This makes it less likely that an imposter will be able to file a return in your name to steal your refund.
  • Don’t respond to threatening robocalls. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone who threatens to arrest you for not paying taxes, it’s probably a scam. Don’t respond to the call, and don’t provide payment or personal information over the phone.
  • Look into call-blocking options. Check with your phone carrier and third-party services to determine whether call-blocking services could help you stop unwanted calls.
  • Make sure you trust your tax filer. Before giving out any personal information, check a tax preparer’s credentials. For example, review information in the IRS’s directory of federal tax return preparers.
  • Protect your information online. When entering sensitive tax information online, use a secure Internet connection; avoid using free public Wi-Fi. Be wary of email messages that appear to come from a legitimate organization but ask you to verify your information by clicking on a link or providing personal information. The message may be part of a phishing scam.

IRS or U.S. Treasury impersonation scams can be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.treasury.gov/tigta or 800-366-4484. Tax identity theft should be reported to the IRS (for federal taxes) or the Ohio Department of Taxation (for state taxes).

Consumers who want help detecting a potential scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

Attorney General DeWine Releases Top Consumer Complaint Categories of 2015

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today released the top categories of complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section in 2015, when more than 27,000 complaints were recorded.

“Through our complaint process, we’ve helped people solve disputes, secure refunds, and clear fraudulent charges,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We encourage consumers to contact us when they think they’ve been treated unfairly or when they need help solving a problem.”

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section works with individuals, businesses, and nonprofits to resolve complaints through informal dispute resolution. According to complaint information, more than $2.4 million was returned or adjusted in 2015 through complaint resolution.

The 2015 top complaint categories were:

  1. Motor vehicles
  2. Professional services
  3. Collections, credit reporting, or financial services
  4. Shopping, food, or beverages
  5. Utilities, phone, Internet, or TV
  6. Home or property improvement
  7. Identity theft
  8. Potential scams or other (such as sweepstakes, do-not-call issues, or grant offers)

Nearly a quarter of all complaints involved motor vehicles. The most common motor-vehicle complaint related to used vehicle sales. Other top motor-vehicle complaints involved vehicle repairs and new vehicle sales.

Identity theft complaints continued to rise in 2015, when more consumers sought assistance from the office’s Identity Theft Unit, which works with creditors and other agencies to correct problems resulting from identity theft. In 2015, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received more than 1,670 identity theft complaints, an increase of more than 300 from the previous year. It also helped victims clear more than $658,000 in fraudulent charges, according to identity-theft complaint information.

Other areas of concern cited among the top complaint categories were collections calls, wireless services, sweepstakes or prizes, cable/bundling, and in-store or online shopping issues.

Consumer complaints can be filed online at http://www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by phone at 800-282-0515.

KNOW YOUR ROLE ON SUPER BOWL 50

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Are You Drinking?

If so, don’t drive. Follow these tips to have fun, stay alive, and avoid getting pulled over or crashing your vehicle on game day.

  • Before Super Bowl Sunday, make a game plan that includes a sober driver – someone who will not be drinking at all.
  • Use NHTSA’s new SaferRide mobile app. The app helps people who have been drinking get a safe ride home by helping users call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store.
  • Leave your keys at home and designate a sober driver.
  • Consider getting a sober ride – ride share or taxi – to your destination, so you won’t even have the option later to drive impaired.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself. Eat plenty of food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Stop drinking after the third quarter, just like they do at the actual stadium.
  • Make sure your designated driver is sober, not just less intoxicated than you.
  • Tweet your designated driver’s name to NHTSA to make their Wall of Fame.
  • Don’t let others drive drunk. Arrange a safe way for them to get home, too.
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; book a ride share, call a cab, friend, or family member to come get you; or if possible stay where you are for the night and don’t drive until you are sober.
  • When you ride home with your sober driver, wear your seat belt. It’s your best defense in a crash.
  • Walking impaired can be dangerous. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.

Or Are You Driving?

If so, don’t drink. Your responsible choices can save lives.

  • Take your role seriously as the designated sober driver—don’t drink and drive.
  • Enjoy the party with food and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Brag about your MVP status on social media using the hashtag #designateddriver.
  • Or during Super Bowl 50, tweet your name to NHTSA, and make their designated driver Wall of Fame.
  • Wear your seat belt and require your passengers to do the same.
  • If someone you know has been drinking and tries to drive, take their keys and help them get home safely. They’ll thank you later. Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.

Are You Hosting a Super Bowl Party?

If so, you’re the team captain! Designate a responsible driver now to help your guests get home safely.

  • Ask all of your guests to designate their sober drivers in advance, or help them arrange ride-sharing with sober drivers. If you don’t drink, offer to drive guests home.
  • Encourage your drinking guests to pace themselves.
  • Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
  • Stop serving alcohol at the end of the third quarter—this is a good time to serve coffee and dessert.
  • Thank the designated sober drivers at your party. You could even acknowledge them on social media using the hashtag #designateddriver.
  • Provide incentive—designated driver Wall of Fame.
  • Sign up online for a ride sharing service and keep the phone numbers of local cab companies on hand and take the keys away from any guests who are thinking of driving after drinking.
  • Remember, if you serve a guest alcohol and he or she gets in a crash that night, you could be held liable.
  • If an underage person drinks and drives, the parent or guardian can be legally liable for any damage, injury or death caused by the underage driver.
  • Likewise, parents or other adults who provide alcohol to – or host a party where alcohol is available to – those under age 21, could face jail time.

 

Are You Aware of the Risks? 

Drunk driving is a serious problem with serious consequences. Don’t become a Super Bowl stat.

  • In 2014 alone, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, 31 percent of all crash fatalities.
  • An average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 53 minutes in 2014.
  • Drunk drivers face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work.
  • The average DUI case costs approximately $10,000.
  • Refusing to take a breath test in many jurisdictions results in immediate arrest, the loss of your driver’s license on the spot and the impoundment of your vehicle. Also, there’s the added embarrassment, humiliation, and consequences of telling family, friends and employers of your arrest.
  • If you injure or kill someone in a drunk-driving crash, it’s something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing and Trespass Prevention

The U.S. railroad system consists of over 750 railroads running on 140,000 miles of track. Every day trains travel across more than 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings.

A Grade Crossing is a location where a public highway, road, street, or private roadway, including associated sidewalks, and pathways, crosses railroad tracks at grade (same level as the street). There are over 38,000 locations were railroad tracks and roadways cross at different levels.

There have been about 270 deaths a year at public and private grade crossings. FRA, through the efforts of its Highway-Rail Crossing and Trespasser Prevention Division is committed to reducing that number. With the assistance of FRA’s programs, the number of fatalities has gone down by 54 percent over the last two decades.

Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. Nationally, more than 445 trespass fatalities occur each year, and nearly as many injuries, the vast majority of which are preventable.

The reality is that nearly every 165 minutes in America, someone is hit by a train. Combined, highway-rail crossing and trespasser deaths account for 96 percent of all rail-related deaths and most of these deaths are avoidable.

Go directly to Train Horn, Whistle Ban and Quiet Zone for information on how to qualify for a Quiet Zone.

Federal funding for installing automatic warning devices and other improvements for public highway-rail crossings is managed by the Federal Highway Administration and commonly referred to as the Section 130 program. Click hereExternal Link for more information on Section 130 and information on State Action Plans to improve highway-rail grade crossing safety.

Click here to find the most common questions we get about the Grade Crossing Inventory Program.

To assist states and railroads in determining effective allocations of federal funds for rail-highway crossing improvements, FRA has developed the Rail-Highway Resource Allocation Procedure. This guide provides information for applying the procedure. See documents at right in the e-Library for more details.

Attorney General DeWine Warns Consumers to Avoid Lottery Scams as Jackpot Rises

scam(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers to avoid lottery and sweepstakes scams as the estimated Powerball jackpot hits $800 million.

In the past month, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section has received more than two dozen complaints involving sweepstakes or prize scams. The average reported loss is about $5,000.

“If you receive a call saying you’ve won the lottery, it’s almost always a scam,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Con artists play on what’s in the news, so we’re warning people to be wary of scams as the Powerball jackpot grows.”

The scams often begin with a phone call or a letter claiming the consumer has won a few million dollars through a lottery or sweepstakes. In order to collect the winnings, consumers are told to wire a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to cover fees or taxes. In reality, they haven’t won a prize, and any money they send will be lost.

Individuals who send money once usually will be contacted again and asked to send more money to cover taxes, customs fees, or other costs supposedly associated with delivering the winnings. As long as the victim continues to send money, the scam artist will keep calling.

Signs of a lottery scam include:

  • Winning a lottery you don’t remember entering.
  • Receiving calls from a lottery or government agency saying you’ve won millions.
  • Receiving an unexpected check for a few thousand dollars.
  • Having to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
  • Having to send money via wire transfer or prepaid card.

Attorney General DeWine encourages consumers to take the following steps to avoid scams:

  • Be very skeptical of someone who calls you and says you’ve won the lottery. These calls are almost always scams.
  • Don’t wire money or pay a fee to receive your winnings.
  • Don’t give out your personal information to someone who contacts you unexpectedly over the phone or through email.
  • Be skeptical if you are asked to call an out-of-country phone number in connection with a lottery or sweepstakes win.
  • Be skeptical if you receive an unexpected check for a few thousand dollars. It could be a counterfeit check used as part of a scam.
  • If you have older relatives or friends, look for signs that they have been targeted by lottery scams. Red flags include unusual banking activities, wire transfer receipts, or an increased number of phone calls made to them.

Consumers should report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.